Without a goal, it is easy to wander aimlessly!

Sprint goals are a statement of the value that teams strive to deliver.  The statement provides a guide for teams so they can focus on the “why” rather than falling into the trap of local optimization.  It is possible to complete all of the stories or work items only to realize that the team has lost sight of the goal. Alternately, it is possible to meet the goal and not complete all of the stories.  There are three general maladies that afflict Sprint Goals when they are not done well. They are: (more…)

The Scrum Guide describes a sprint goal as an “objective that will be met within the Sprint through the implementation of the Product Backlog, and it provides guidance to the Development Team on why it is building the Increment.” The Sprint Goal is a tool to manage and focus the team’s activities. The team uses its energy to deliver the functionality required to satisfy the goal.  As a communication tool, the goal needs to be stated in the business domain’s language that succinctly covers:

  1. Why the work is being done. 
  2. What the outcome will accomplish.

As communication, the sprint goal needs to speak to stakeholders as well as the technical components of the team. Crafting good Sprint Goals is difficult partly because they reflect a negotiation between the product owner and the technical members of the team.  It takes sweat equity to attain three major hurdles required for effective Sprint Goals. Effective Sprint Goals are:

  1. Tangible.  The outcome of attaining the goal needs to be something that is substantial and perceptible.
  2. Measurable. The result of a Sprint, by definition, is potentially implementable.  The impact of the outcome should be measurable or, at the very least, validatable.   
  3. Understandable. The wording used should AVOID legalistic mumbo jumbo. 

One of the uses of an objective is as a rallying cry; if the statement does not galvanize all of the involved parties there is a problem. In addition, teams use the Sprint Goal to know when they are done or filter out work that does not generate the agreed-upon outcome.

The Scrum Guide states the Daily Scrum is an event which the Development Team plans work for the next 24 hours.  Far too often teams are working on a mixture of items that are not related to each other or are assigned to team members which locks in boundaries between people.  The day-to-day microplanning envisioned by the authors of the Scrum Guide slip through the team’s fingers and land directly on sharing status especially when driven by the classic three questions: (more…)

Sometimes doing what book says is out of the question!

When a Daily Scrum or daily stand-up are not used for micro-planning and collaborating to achieve the team’s goal, they are occurring for a reason.  Those meetings are scratching some other itch than planning, an itch that however unagile is often defended. When the goal of a daily meeting is something other than group planning there are more efficient and less expensive approaches even for highly agile teams to address status and have a social event. (more…)

Every Day?


Daily Scrums or stand-ups are a fixture of teams, agile or not, whether they are fulfilling goal identified in the Scrum Guide or not. The Scrum Guide identifies the Daily Scrum (often colloquially known as a stand-up) as one the key events in Scrum.  The purpose of the event is to plan work for the next 24 hours. The meeting are short, approximately 15 minutes, therefore don’t feel like a huge investment of time and money. Wrong!  An agile coaching colleague, Anthony Mersino points out that the Daily Scrum has a cost.  His estimate of $60,000 – 110,000 annually for a typical Scrum team is probably conservative if you factor in the impact of gathering time and getting coffee afterward. Done well there is an offset to the cost.  The value of the meeting comes from micro-planning and collaboration that occurs during the stand-up. The issue is that Daily Scrums or stand-ups don’t always make sense, at least the daily part. Don’t spend the money for a daily stand-up meeting when: (more…)

Not a status meeting!

The stand-up meeting is a simple meeting that Agile teams hold on a daily basis to plan and synchronize activities. The Scrum Guide states:

“The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Development Team. The Daily Scrum is held every day of the Sprint. At it, the Development Team plans work for the next 24 hours.” 

Conceptually the daily stand-up is a simple event and when done correctly provides microplanning adjustments that keep a team on track. This simple meeting can be a great tool; however, it often becomes a HORROR story.  Nothing has changed since the last time we addressed the stand-up meeting in 2016 (more…)

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SPaMCAST 542 features our interview with Kevin Rush. Mr. Rush has developed an innovative approach to facilitate sprint/iteration planning.  Kittens, exploding kittens, and fat cats are used to help teams probe whether the team understands the story and if the story is broken down well enough for the team to reduce the risk of failure.  All change agents talk about making changes at the team level but many fail to change how they work, Kevin suggests that experimenting with different approaches is eating our dog food. Way too many pet metaphors, but a great discussion.

Kevin’s Bio

Kevin is a certified Scrum Master and Agility Enablement leader at Hyland Software. Before coming to Hyland he worked as an innovation consultant and coach with for-profit and nonprofit organizations throughout Northeast Ohio. A graduate from DeVry University he spent time as Technology Coordinator for several local school districts before transitioning to ministry then back to tech! When he’s not working with teams and organizations he spends his time with his beautiful wife, Sondra, and their three beautiful daughters. (more…)

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